4x4 Adventures Ltd Taunton, Somerset
Bampton Drive Round Day – 5th March 17
Words and pictures by Richard Watson

When James mentioned that he had a seat going spare on one of his popular Drive Round Days at Bampton I jumped at the opportunity to get a ride in a vehicle other than my own. As I’m pondering a rebuild of my 90 it’s good to get some time in others and see what works well and is worth putting on my build wish-list. Unfortunately that list is now much longer and includes a cage, rear locker and new suspension!

There were six of us out for what might be the last trip to Bampton this winter, from Russell’s ever-capable Series through a well modified 2 door Range Rover, 4 90’s and Pauls well used but very capable Discovery 2.

The recent wet weather meant some of the route plans were promptly altered to avoid making a mess of the terrain, and so that we didn’t spend all day just winching through one area. On the plus side, we were certainly likely to make use of the winches fitted to 5 of the vehicles, although they’re by no means essential – it’s more of a pride thing being able to recover yourself rather than ask someone else for help!

We had a gentle start, following some of the lanes that connect the different event areas to a woodland criss-crossed with steep tracks up and down the hillside. After some controlled descents, it was time to try a steep rutted climb. We could see where diffs had ploughed furrows on the way down so weren’t expecting an easy ascent. James’s 90 has the benefit of twin air-lockers and with a run up scrabbled its way to the top. Russell was next in line and after a few attempts was forced to take an alternative route – the Series gets all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect it to but the springs hang down below the axle and there was no way it was going to get to the top. The other vehicles followed up the hill and all made it up, momentum definitely being the key!

Priestlands was up next and was just as muddy as we’d predicted. James just made it through the first run but most of those following needed a short pull from a winch to complete the section. We negotiated the seemingly endless tree stumps and then dropped into the second run towards the edge of the woods. The tyres found grip in places, lost it in others and eventually we got to the point where we were going no further. I’m not quite the energetic winch monkey I used to be but got the front winch hooked up in reasonable time and James was out. Russel was up next and made it to a similar point, then with a bit of shunting and an alternative line made it up the hill without needing a winch at all. Until a tree stump stopped progress at the top. More winching, a pulley block or two and everyone else gradually made it through and it was time for a bit of lunch and a discussion on how to make your winch go faster.

Tim’s “lost route” was luckily found which lead us on a good route up through the woods, then onto the bomb hole. I sat in with James for this one and have never been so far over sideways whilst still making forwards progress! Very impressive, but optional if you like your Defender wings to stay wing shaped. The Discovery and Range Rover followed through, making it look easy. The hit-and-miss sun we’d been enjoying most of the day then gave way to rain so we got moving again round the edges of fields leading in and out of the woods.

Fully used the conditions now, everyone made it up the tricky climb to the top of long drop on their first attempt, much to my disappointment as I was trying to video it! The drop was just as sodden as everywhere else but there was grip to be found somewhere under the surface and we all made it down safely and smoothly to the bottom.

As the day drew to a close we headed down to the river for a drive along the sunken track which runs along the boundary of a field. This was predictably a little wetter than usual, but only by a couple of inches and didn’t cause anyone any issues. With that, it was time to clean off number plates and lights and head on home. Thanks for another fun day out all!

Some pictures from the day